You receive a phone call from a recorded message that claims to be the Social Security Administration. There is a problem with your SSN and you need to call them back immediately or you will lose your benefits. You call the number they provided and are greeted by an officer with the administration. He tells you your SSN was tied to criminal activity (theft, terrorism, money laundering) and you are in jeopardy of losing your benefits. He arranges a deal for you that can “make all of this go away.” You end up paying hundreds if not thousands of dollars via gift cards.
Why this scam works:
Most people are afraid to lose their social security benefits because that’s their main source of income. They’ve never received a call from the SSA before, so how would they know how it works? They are given a story that sounds terrifying and therefore, can’t think rationally.
What should you do:
First of all, now that you know about the scam, don’t even call back. If they happen to catch you on the phone, ask for their name, and advise you’ll call them back. Look up the phone number for the Social Security office nearest you and call them. Ask if they were trying to contact you for any reason. If you can even get through to them, they’ll tell you they were not trying to contact you, and that if they were, they’d try sending you a letter first.